* I'm incredibly frustrated that he/she won't tell the truth. Even when I present "evidence", he denies his sexual acting out. How can I ever trust a man who so blatantly lies to me?
Sex addiction thrives in secrecy. Addicts will go to any length to protect their double life. Denial, ("Don't Even Know I'm Lying") plays a huge part in any addiction process. The reality of the acting out is protected from the conscious mind. If the addict is unaware of the truth, how can he tell you?
The very thinking process of the addict becomes impaired as he becomes immersed in the denial process, giving way to the minimization of the extent of his behavior. This connects with "rationalization": i.e. "I'm not really cheating" – "All guys do this" – "I'm not hurting anyone" – "I work hard so I deserve some pleasure." This combination of denial, minimization and rationalization makes it extremely difficult for him to know the truth.
More complexing is the phenomenon of "dissociation", or "The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" syndrome. Dissociation is a clinical process that characterizes multiple personality disorder. While I'm not saying the sex addicts have MPD, I am suggesting that some of the same characteristics of that disorder are shared. One side of the personality protects the other side from the truth. Some level of dissociation is in every man who has a "double life". Each side of the personality has different values, goals, beliefs and needs that conflict with the other side.
This is why, when the sexual acting out is finished, the addict feels so distressed and shameful. Mr. Hyde does the acting out and Dr. Jekyll experiences the remorse.
When the addict is acting out, he has feelings of being disconnected from himself and his environment. Clients speak of "the bubble", the "erotic haze", "zoning out", and "feeling apart from myself and watching myself from afar ", of feeling "foggy" or "not feeling like a real person" Losing track of time is common as is feeling outside oneself as both an observer and a participant. Emotions are numbed; the fantasy creates an alternate reality which obscures the truth of "what is".
Once in therapy, a primary issue that arises is a feeling of a fragmented sense of self or being unsure of his identity. Therapy will help him get to the bottom of hidden parts of himself that he may not have fully understood or been able to control until treatment starts to work. Only by getting in touch with hidden parts of himself will the full realization of his talents and strengths be realized and fulfillment in his personal relationships can begin to unfold.
* I don't see how our relationship can survive the emotional pain and chaos of his sexual addiction. Have other couples been able to work through these issues? How have they done it?
When at least one member of a couple is sexually addicted, restoring trust and building intimacy can be very difficult. These couples must work as hard on their recovery together as a couple as they do on their individual recoveries.
One of the great challenges to recovery from sexual compulsivity is restoring or building an intimate relationship with a committed partner. Many existing relationships are seriously impaired and often don't survive because of sexual acting out. The partner of the sex addict's ability to trust is obviously damaged. The psychodynamic and behavioral issues underlying sexual addiction contribute to obstacles to overcoming and building intimate and committed relationships.
The good news is that we have seen from our experience that not only is it possible to repair, rebuild, or newly build a committed relationship, but the level of emotional and physical intimacy that comes from working on these issues together is sustaining, gratifying and growth-producing for each member of the couple.
* What is effective in the process of healing and building?
To fix a marriage that has been damaged by sexual addiction, the first step
is to discover what's been broken. The process of repair is a journey that both
partners must choose to undertake together, as well as separately. Self inventory is
an inescapable feature of the process. Studies of couples who have achieved success
have shown their willingness to ask themselves certain questions:
* How committed am I to this relationship?
* Do I want to find out what a healthy sexual partnership is?
* Am I willing to take the risk of being truly vulnerable to my partner?
* Can I face my own interior issues to develop my own personal growth?
* A faithful, honest, monogamous sexual relationship with my partner – is
this what I really want? Is this my goal?
MULIRO GARDENS PHOTOS
A strong commitment to the marriage and a desire to learn and experience a healthy
sexual relationship with the spouse are essential for recovery. For clarity, two definitions
are helpful. The sex addict is the partner who has been engaging in compulsive
extramarital activities. The sexual co addict is the sex addict's partner, sometimes
identified as a relationship addict.
Next, the major "breaks" in the damaged marriage need to be identified. The first and
greatest casualty is invariably lost trust. The co- addict has feelings of anger as a result of being betrayed. The addict feels guilt and shame as a result of hurting and betraying the spouse. Re-establishing mutual trust must be actively addressed and worked on in treatment. Forgiveness and opening up to being vulnerable again are necessary ingredients for rebuilding lost trust.
Another "break" in a sex addiction-damaged marriage is the loss of honest communication. The addict has been hiding his acting out with compulsive sexual behaviors, so that deception has become a part of daily married life. The partner of the sex addict, on the other hand, has suspicions, yet avoids confronting the addict and hides her fears.
Self-blame, feeling responsible for the addict's secret sexual behaviors, and even blaming
herself for all of the marriage's problems are some typical reasons for not discussing their issues.